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D.C. Launches $350M Rental Assistance Program With Money From Federal Government

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaking at an affordable housing ribbon-cutting in 2018.

D.C. is using hundreds of millions of dollars from the last two federal stimulus bills to provide financial assistance to renters. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the launch Monday of a $350M program to help struggling D.C. residents make rent and utilities payments. 

Renters and landlords can apply for funding from the program to cover past and future rent and utilities payments. Eligible applicants must make below a certain income level, such as $79,600 for a family of four. Families can receive assistance for payments dating back to April 1, 2020, and for up to three months of future payments. 

The program, STAY DC, includes funding from the last two federal relief bills. The $900B bill passed in December included $25B in rental assistance, of which D.C. received $200M. The District also received $152M in rental assistance money from the American Rescue Plan, which passed in March. 

“A strong recovery starts with ensuring everyone in our community has safe and stable housing," Bowser said in a release. "This is about getting Washingtonians the money they need to pay their bills now so that they can stay in their homes once the public health emergency ends."

The program's launch comes less than a week after the D.C. Council made the first changes to D.C.'s year-old eviction moratorium, allowing landlords to evict tenants who are deemed by a judge to be dangerous to their neighbors. Small Multifamily Owners Association CEO Dean Hunter said the District providing $350M in assistance to struggling renters means it should be able to further loosen the eviction moratorium. 

"With so much money in rental assistance, no one should be evicted for non-payment of rent," Hunter wrote in an emailed statement. "The government needs to immediately allow filings for single-family homes and small apartment buildings ... Right now tenants are not applying for assistance because we can't file in court. The Council has broken the system."